A federal judge has sided with the Federal Trade Commission in granting a court-appointed receiver broad authority to marshal assets and take over businesses the judge ruled were controlled by controversial TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau, who last month was found in contempt for failing to pay a $37.6 million sanction against him for deceptive marketing.
If Trudeau fails to cooperate with the receiver's efforts, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Gettleman has threatened to force Trudeau's compliance by sending the erstwhile infomercial king to jail, which is exactly where the FTC has been arguing he belongs until he pays.
"I want to be 100 percent cooperative," a polite but agitated Trudeau told an FTC attorney after a hearing here earlier this month. "I want to wash my hands of this. I want to put this behind me."
The government, however, remains deeply skeptical of Trudeau's promises. After all, for the better part of the last 14 months, Trudeau has been locked in an acrimonious dispute with the FTC over the agency's allegations that Trudeau was concealing assets that should have been used to pay the sanction.
The contempt finding was the third of Trudeau's checkered career, which is also dotted with $2.5 million in prior settlements with the FTC over allegedly misleading claims for a host of products he pitched in infomercials. The 50-year-old Massachusetts native's record also includes two felony fraud convictions from the early 1990's, for which he spent nearly two years in federal prison.
The receiver, Los Angeles-based consulting firm Robb Evans and Associates, has been given substantial judicially-backed power to seek out and seize assets, both domestically and abroad. Still the FTC has indicated in court filings that it anticipates Trudeau may attempt to frustrate the process with further litigation or by simply dragging his feet. "Because the Court did not incarcerate Trudeau, he has no incentive to put forth genuine cooperation," the government attorneys wrote in a motion last week.